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Panel on Withdrawing From Iraq and Afghani... Education. (2010) Ivan Eland, Peter Galbraith and Charles Pena discuss withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Afghanistan 84, U.s. 53, Pakistan 37, Taliban 24, United States 14, India 11, Us 9, Turkey 5, Yugoslavia 5, Kurdistan 4, Vietnam 4, Al Qaeda 4, Mcchrystal 3, Kabul 3, Pushkin 2, Isi 2, U.n. 2, Karzai 2, Clinton 2, Osama Bin 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Panel on Withdrawing From Iraq and Afghani...  Education.   
   (2010) Ivan Eland, Peter Galbraith and Charles Pena discuss...  

    January 31, 2010
    8:00 - 9:30am EST  

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secretary of general of the u.n. to afghanistan and a former assistant secretary-general of the u.n. and also he's the former ambassador to croatia so that's a lot of titles there. chuck pena who's a senior fellow at the independent institute and myself -- i'm ivan eland. the institute's director. i'll speak first because i'm standing up here and i'll moderate the question and answer so you'll be seeing me a lot of me, i guess. maybe too much. and after the program is finished, everybody is welcomed to stay for the informal lunch which we'll have just right in this room. now, of course, what prompted this forum was that the president recently gave a john kerry-like speech last tuesday that essentially said, we will escalate the war before we deescalate it. the president who is against the
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surge in iraq is now imitating that same surge in afghanistan. the plan seems to be surge, stabilize the cities and win time to train the afghan security forces. that is the hidden message that there is -- we're going to contain but not defeat the taliban. now, the president's afghan plan has some problems as i see it. ....
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>> there was also the fact there was so much ethnic cleansing that the warring ethnosectarian factions were separated. my prediction in iraq is violence will return. there have been periodic large, multiple bombings like yesterday that indicates that all is not well. now, the strategy in the short term was a good one, paying off the sunni awakening which successfully divide the opposition and cannot be awakening to attack al qaeda instead of the united states. this same strategy of dividing the opposition has actually worked before to win counterinsurgency campaigns. there have been very few counterinsurgency campaigns that have been successful in the 20th century, but the defeat of the philippine rebels after the spanish-american war at the turn of the last century, the
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u.s. backed greek governments defeat of the guerrillas in 1947, and the british defeated the chinese insurgency in the 1950s, all of those have the same thing in common, that they split the opposition. however, in iraq the ethnosectarian fishers are still great. and i don't think the show is over yet. in my book, "partitioning for peace," which is on, what to do about iraq, i go through so the other ethnocentric conflict in world history and find a violent sometimes as the usually always returns unless the underlying issues have been resolved, which they have in iraq. they don't have an oil law which is their bread and butter commodity so you can see the level of disagreement in society. and of course, they have struggled even to get a date for the election. and that didn't happen until recently. now, even if the surge had been the defining factor, the question is can you translate
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that to afghanistan. afghanistan is a much different country and a much harder fight to win. here are some of the reasons. the taliban has a more zealous insurgency than the former path in iraq. afghanistan is a bigger country, has more people in iraq and there are fewer forces there. and according to u.s. military, the u.s. would have to have nearly 600,000 troops in afghanistan to be effective. of course, that's a rule of thumb, but the basic principle is that we are way under that and there is no hope that we'll ever get get up to that high. so i think we see the daunting task ahead, iraq is flat. afghanistan is mountains making it much easier for the guerrillas, unlike iraq, the afghan taliban have a sanctuary in pakistan. which is supposedly our allies but which only goes after the
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pakistani taliban and not the afghan taliban. the afghan taliban is always useful to the pakistani government to counter the indian influence in afghanistan, especially when the u.s. is likely to leave as the president signaled his intention to at least are pulling out troops by 2011. so that was i think a message to the pakistanis that perhaps the elements of the pakistani military that they should keep supporting the afghan taliban. now, an iraqi insurgency insurgency was primarily urban were as afghanistan is rural. because of the war, the civil war and the assassinations in addition, the tribal leadership is weaker in iraq -- is weaker in afghanistan than in iraq, and there's no awakening movement in afghanistan. the taliban are afghans, who for the most part don't target civilians. whereas al qaeda and iraq is led by foreigners, and purposely
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attacks civilians to strike ethnosectarian's for hatred. that of course alienates many sunnis in iraq. and of course, in afghanistan we had a corrupt karzai government who stole the election and ruled only topple. so much of afghanistan is effectively run by the taliban. in addition, we've had eight years with the u.s. has isolated between the kinetic counterterrorism strategy and a counterinsurgency strategy that tries to protect people. and we have seen the last oscillation of that. this happened during the bush administration, and now it's happening again in the obama administration that we are moving back to a counterinsurgency strategy. now besides afghanistan being a much harder, not to crack that iraq we now have a lot of domestic factors affecting the u.s. policy. the american public is war weary
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after two wars stretched out over many years. and i think it's politically perilous for any politician in a democracy to escalate a war that is already unpopular, even lbj didn't do that when he escalated the vietnam war. u.s. spending in afghanistan is more per year than any other military spends on the planet. so we're dumping a lot of resources into afghanistan. the afghan war is expected to cost another trillion dollars over the next 10 years. of course, we are still racking up the bills in iraq. at the same time, the u.s. is running a trillion dollar annual deficit, budget deficit per year during a recession. will probably undertaken an extensive health care program that will cost between $1,000,000,000,002.5 trillion over 10 years, and not to mention the massive solvency problem looming over the social security and medicare systems coming down the road. so it's really questionable whether the u.s. can't afford to
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fight two wars simultaneously under these revised circumstances. now the u.s. military has backhandedly admitted that it can't win in afghanistan, but hopes the surge will allow it to disrupt and degrade quote unquote the taliban. which really means contain the taliban in urban areas until the afghan security forces are up to speed. but of course all the surge troops will not be in place until the fall of next year, having only nine short months until the withdrawal supposedly begins. the afghan forces are small, corrupt and drug ravaged and it would take much longer than even five years that karzai has testified for them to be able to secure the country by themselves. the problem in afghanistan contrary to what people believe, is that you can't contrast afghanistan. afghanistan has been conquered many times. the problem is of doing it and controlling it, which it really has been. i think that ago probably back
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to the persian cyrus to find anyone who has controlled afghanistan. one of the reasons for that is there's a desperate groups living spreadout and it's very difficult to control this type of collection of different people. now, of course, we're only going to try to hundred 40000 afghans, instead of the 400,000 that mcchrystal proposed. and the more u.s. troops that we put in there, the less incentive the afghans had to train forces themselves. now it's not clear to me what stabilizing urban areas will do for the fight against al qaeda, since any training camp would probably be in the taliban controlled country side anyway. you don't usually put a big training camp in the middle of downtown somewhere. now i've painted an awful portrait of afghanistan and predicted that iraq will again corrupt into civil strife when
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the u.s. begins to pull a. now what should the u.s. do in each conflict? in my view, and iraq the u.s. should sponsor a national conclave and try to decentralize iraq even further into a loose confederation of very autonomous regions. with iraq's history of one groups controlling the central government, and using it to oppress the other groups, the central government should be made week so that the ethnosectarian groups don't fight over controlling it. most government functions including security the judicial system and social services could be in the nearly created a dysentery and regions. those regions should not fall the provincial boundaries of iraq. that it has now. this would allow people to be policed and judged by people in the own group. the central government would only be allowed to create an open market among the various regions and a representation overseas. some oil revenue or oil sharing
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would have to be hammered out to get the sunnis to accept the devolution of power to the region. you might have to move the boundaries around oil fields, etc. but in an eminent u.s. withdraw which we have -- which we don't have yet just might tattle is the end of the stalemate on the oil law. contrary to conventional wisdom, my research shows that countries are petitioned the regional boundaries don't have to perfectly go along on the ethnosectarian lines. you just have to avoid him minority on the wrong side of the line which threatens the jury. for example, in kosovo, the serbs to represent a little as than 10 percent of the population, and there really hasn't been that much violence against them since the kosovo became independent. because their numbers don't
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threaten the albanian majority. that's one example. although you'd u.s. should try to negotiate such a decentralization, to a loose confederation in iraq on its way out, the iraqis don't want to do this. that's fine but i think the u.s. should pull out anyway because i think this will be iraq's last hope of more ethnosectarian violence. and certainly bush is arming and training of the wakening into long-term. is a good short-term strategy to reduce the violence but in the long term it may make to support more intense because there will be a third sidearms, the u.s. already armed the kurds entering those forces. now contrary to conventional wisdom, and in spite of its oil, iraq is not really strategic to u.s. interest. this is a subject which you really can't get too much into in this seminar, but i don't
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really believe that we need to defend oil with armed forces because the market will deliver the oil. that's a subject of my next book. now, as for afghanistan, and i know most people are interested in afghanistan because it's the war of the week, or we shifted -- we forgot about afghanistan while we're doing all the stuff in iraq. now that iraq, the violence has lessened, and we're back to our short attention span back to afghanistan. now i think that the u.s. should also get out of afghanistan as quickly as possible. and i think it seems as if obama in his speech is giving it one last college try before the withdrawal begins, but the question remains whether the security -- u.s. security can convince him to stay longer. they always seem to say, make arguments that he can't refuse to stay longer when u.s. forces get involved.
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i think that the u.s. needs to realize that pakistan is more important than afghanistan. there is some vague awareness in this administration, especially the part of the white house and vice president. for right now i think they have lost the internal battle. obama has been persuaded to u.s. escalation in afghanistan was the to convince the pakistani government to fight the taliban. but that pakistan had its own sinister fight pakistani taliban, an insurgency that is too over the pakistani government, but not the afghanistan taliban, which the pakistanis elements of the pakistani military use to counter the indian influence in afghanistan. of course, you can't restructure pakistan security priorities. india is a nuclear armed power, and that's pakistan's major in me. so fighting terrorism, i would say, maybe even in their own country is secondary to the pakistan. it's certainly secondary in the mind of the pakistani military. pakistan is a nuclear armed country as being charged with a
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new build since he being fueled in my view by the u.s. military presence in afghanistan, and attacks into pakistan. just as the president has fueled the taliban insurgency if you examine the timeline, it didn't seem to begin until 2006. in 2005, u.s. forces moved out of kabul and into the countryside. i think something similar is happening to what happened in the soviet period where the more troops so they troops put in just created more fighters against them. now, obama has really said that german strike outside the tribal areas and special forces to hit afghan taliban targets in pakistan, will be used or at least threatened if the pakistanis to do something about it. i think this will drive pakistan public opinion crazy. and of course, i think these
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sorts of strike should be limited for getting al qaeda people, and the lightest footprint billion possibly have. pakistan does provide, or at least people think they provide, shelter for osama bin laden and al qaeda central leadership. somebody in the pakistani military probably knows where he is, and the pakistani certainly avoid fighting the afghan taliban or trying to capture, kill its leaders. so the pakistanis have their own agenda. and i think one of the reasons that gates and clinton were walking back obama's pledge to withdraw forces back in 2011, which of course is designed to prod karzai to make his reforms, was the realization that the pakistani military if they know the u.s. is going to lead, would have no incentive not to accelerate the helping of the u.s. in the, the afghan taliban.
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to forestall indian influence. now of course mcchrystal said yesterday that it wasn't important, the withdrawal date wasn't important to strategy, which basically blows the message to karzai that we'll be leaving so they're sending sort of a model message. now, i don't think obama -- he doesn't mess have to say the u.s. is going to withdraw because the pakistanis have already experienced the u.s. and herut limited attention span, which we don't ever really acknowledge too much in the united states which just happens time and time again. so our chief ally in the region will probably continue supporting our enemies in the region, which is kind of a bizarre thing to have happen, if you know what i mean, but that's what's going on, right? the taliban will not be defeated and it will outweighed the
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united states. but what if the taliban weren't our enemy? what if the solution to this problem? what i would say is we need to distinguish between the taliban which is a local insurgency and al qaeda which is a worldwide insurgency, terrorist group, that's targeting the u.s. that's a big difference because when you're a guerrilla group you hold territory. and when you hold territory, you can be deterred a lot more than you can be if you are a terrorist group and you don't -- you can't be threatened. we don't want to repeat what we did in the cold war, but it seems like what we're doing, remember when we thought all communist with the same? but then, there was a chinese commies and then it was a soviet time it is. and then it was of course common like tito which we eventually kind of the chinese and the yugoslav communist, we sort of made friends with, at least to some extent to prod our soviet enemy. in fact, richard nixon made
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friends with the more radical chinese in sort of not analyze, but a loose alignment to counter the soviets. so i think we have to distinguish all these people are not the same. and a lot of redder, even that we're getting from the administration, seem to think that they are. so what do we do? well, i would try to buy off what taliban you can, as a way to minimize casualties and lower violence so that we can get out. you have to accept the eventuality that the taliban will have governed, or govern afghanistan. i would rely on the afghan taliban chief support of the pakistani military to make sure that they don't harbor al qaeda. the taliban should've learned its lesson that harboring al qaeda will bring the u.s. hammer down. we still have options. we could invade again, although
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this time we would remain. we could use the threat of periodic airstrikes, something the anti-taliban government would like to avoid if you're trying to govern the country, because they do hold territory and we can't hold them accountable. if the taliban plays ball with us and doesn't harbor al qaeda, then we leave it alone. the british press has reported in prior negotiations with the taliban, it recognize u.s. interest did not have al qaeda sheltering afghanistan. and of course in the vast taliban controlled parts of afghanistan, the taliban has been harboring al qaeda in training camps, and so that give some cause for hope. people do learn their lesson. when the germans and the japanese had their countries bombed into rubble, they changed sides. i'm not saying that the taliban would necessarily do that, but certainly they may be much more pragmatic than we think.
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now, to get the pakistanis an incentive to pressure to any taliban government not to harbor the taliban, not to harbor al qaeda, skinny, we could mediate what pakistan and that is recession of the talks of the rival, much more powerful rival, india. now the pakistanis do this, and they also produce the al qaeda leadership, u.s. can even offer pressure in you to make a permanent peace with pakistan. if pakistan doesn't play ball, and doesn't pressure the afghan taliban not to harbor al qaeda, u.s. said they could realize with india and end all aid to pakistani and support for the pakistani economy. and also, i think the pakistani insurgency will be when the u.s. leaves afghanistan, because what drives the islamic crazy is
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non-muslim occupation of a muslim soil. which of course, is what the u.s. has been doing in the exact opposite of what we should been doing after 9/11. finally, the al qaeda central leadership of course could move to yemen or somalia. so afghanistan is not any more import than any other countries as a potential shelter. that the administration just made the argument that winning in afghanistan where the nine 9/11 attacks emanate from will embolden the islamic militants and harmed u.s. prestige that i think these are similar to some of the argument that were made during the vietnam war, if vietnam went to the communists, you know, all these bad things would happen which never really happened. now i think we can continue to use law enforcement and intelligence airstrikes, special forces, to contain al qaeda and any of those potential sanctuaries, including afghanistan and pakistan if we have to. and i think containing the
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taliban instead of just contain al qaeda makes the problem worse because you have the foreign occupation. so, but i think we need to pressure pakistan to and get them to do what they can. now, they don't do it we can do we need to keep al qaeda contained within the least footprint available. so, do no harm should be the first u.s. objective. and i'm afraid we are not doing that. we've actually encouraging islamic militancy in the cold war years, too, as a bulwark against communism but we're still doing doing that inadvertently by occupying muslim soil. and bin laden must be pleased by both obama surge and bush's
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excursion to iraq. so i think we need a lighter touch, and concentrate on counterinsurgency and drop the counter -- counterterrorism and drop the counterinsurgency. and i think we will be much better off. there was no perfect solution, but that's what i have in my. so we will go to a second speaker, peter galbraith. [applause] >> ivan, thank you for the presentation. i apologize for being a few minutes late. but let me just begin by picking up on the broader thing that you raise, which is the question of,
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question that has intrigued me, i suppose having worked in so many divided states in and observe the policies that we follow. almost invariably the united states has entered a commitment to the continued existence of every state that exists. this was most prevalent in 1991 when george h. w. bush did everything he could to hold the soviet union together. including going to key of on the first of august of that year to warn the ukrainians against nationalism. a speech that became known as the chicken kiev speech. it was an extraordinary commitment of u.s. prestige and
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diplomacy at a time when it was just unrivaled in the world, to a cause that was totally hopeless. in which we actually had no interest. he does within the month, ukraine was independent. the same error was made with very tragic consequences in yugoslavia, where james baker went on the 21st of june, 1991, toward the leaders of the six republics of the been yugoslavia, that if they broke up the country that those who broke away could expect no sympathy from the u.s. but at that point in time, the people of slovenia and croatia had already voted overwhelmingly for independence. the leaders were, their whole being was about independence.
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the date was set for the 25th, four days later, and of course they went ahead. and it was not possible at that time, or indeed, many months in advance, to have saved yugoslavia. and there was no point in trying to save yugoslavia. the world is not worse off -- in fact, it's better off that there is no soviet union. but the tragedy of the yugoslav situation was not the breakup of the country, but the violence. and the violence was definitely preventable in the spring and early summer of 1991. holding yugoslavia together was not a possibility. and we continue with this commitment to the unity of every
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state that exists. so that, for example, in iraq one of our major objectives, as stated by the second president bush, was the unity of iraq. and yet, there is a part of the country, kurdistan, in which every single person there, at least everyone that i have met, and this was also expressed in a referendum that was held at the time of the first iraqi elections, which -- every kurd i met favors independence. that includes those who hold prominent positions in the central government in baghdad, and in a referendureferendum that the kurds held, at the time of the january 30, 2005 elections, they voted 98 percent for independence. it was obviously nonbinding referendum.
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and so again, i would say that the interest that we have in iraq is not in any unity of the country, but in avoiding violence. now, there are obviously circumstances where the continuation of the state, of the state, may also be related to a avoiding violence. and to some degree that may be true in iraq. certainly, had the kurds -- kurdistan declared its independence in 2003, that would have produced a very violent reaction on turkey. but, as the situation has evolved come in turkey's thinking, you had extraordinary statement by general kanaan efron, who was the last military dictator of turkey, staged the coup in 1980, as military men do, he made himself president. he was the guy who launched a crackdown on the kurds in
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southeast turkey. this was a time that describe the people of southeast turkey as kurds was illegal, they were mountain turks. but recently, he said, what's this business about an independent kurdistan in northern iraq? of course existed we have to get used to it. and incidentally, it's not a threat to turkey. noggin, i'm not saying that turkey, if kurdistan declared itself independent tomorrow, that turkey would be very enthusiastic of it but there is a clear evolution. in that situation. the other frame with which we discuss these problems is that we tend to describe the people of these areas by the state. the number of times that i heard the phrase yugoslavs from people. i can assure you i never met a
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grow op who ever accepted that he was a yugoslav. there were a few people of mixed products of mixed marriages who describe themselves as yugosla yugoslavs. and not going to contradict me on that one. [laughter] >> i but there is some circular describe themselves that way, but not so many. a certain number of bosnians, muslims. but fundamentally, this is and how they look at it. this was really a construct that we had. we also referred to soviets and czechoslovak. and we refer to iraqi's. and again, virtually every kurd, call them an iraqi. he or she is offended. and frankly, describes, this break describes how we view the country. i listen to you describe iraq as
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flat. well, that's true for the part of iraq that thinks of itself as iraq. but if you look at the map, that isn't strictly speaking true. [inaudible] >> well, parts of afghanistan are flat and it simply, the flat parts at least in the south is where much of the problem is. but if you then sort of stop at the filter of looking at existing states, and also consider nationalities, it gives you a rather different picture. and it shows, i think, why, in fact, -- were never going to lose the iraq war in the sense that there was never going to be a moment -- well, we're going to lose if our objective was the unity of iraq. or a stable, peaceful,
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democratic unified iraq. yes, okay. but we weren't going to lose it in the picture that was painted by former defense secretary rumsfeld, who said a matching what would happen if al qaeda, you know, if we pulled out and al qaeda would be taking over in baghdad. the image he invoked was from vietnam, you, the north vietnamese tanks knocking down the open gates of the presidential palace in saigon. that wasn't going to happen in iraq. sample, demographics. 60 percent of the population are shiites are and they were in control of the army. of course, a shiite army. control the south. they weren't -- there was no way that the al qaeda baathist insurgency was going to be able to defeat them. and the kurds, who had certainly
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in the earlier -- you know, a few years ago, and maybe even still today, the strongest military in iraq. they weren't going to be defeated by the al qaeda out of. there was no support among the shiites for al qaeda, or the console sees who view the shiites as a people who should be killed. the kurds, virtually no support in kurdistan. so we are talking about a problem that existed in about 20 percent of the population. and of course, the problem solve itself when the fundamentalist element, who the local power structure, the baathists were very happy to have him come as long as they were killing americans, joining caring americans, that was great because long as they were joining -- as long as they are killing shiites, hey, that was fun, big massacre of shiite
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civilians. but then they begin to shake down the shakes for money that they begin to demand their daughters into forced marriages. and they began to kill. the local tribal shakes that at that point the guy said well, we've had enough and they asked the americans for money that they didn't need to ask for weapons. and in a very short period of time they're able to defeat them. and that i think is the situation in iraq. i don't know whether after u.s. withdrawal would dissolve into violence. actually, i think there's a certain innate stability to what has happened. precisely because iraq does already have an extremely decentralized constitution. in which it is a confederation, at least it is a confederation between arabs and kurds, in which kurdistan has all the trappings of an independent state, including its own army,
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its own legislator, its own flag. and only recently when the iraqi flag was redesigned, did they allow you to fly there. its own immigration. you need a visa to go to iraq but you don't need a visa to go to kurdistan. and the fact that it has all the trappings of an independent state, frankly, reduces the incentive to go for formal independence. as between the sunnis and shiites, they do think of themselves as iraqis, and i don't think you can think of a symmetric devolution of power in that country. the other thing about iraq, so basically the iraqi system allows those who really want to govern their own affairs and the independent, to be independent. and those who don't, they don't have to. and at the center, with a super majority system, and the
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allocation of positions, each of these groups is represented in the central government. so while a shiite is going to be the prime minister, he doesn't choose the other ministers. if there are 20 ministers, 10 of them will be shiites, five will be courage, but it would be the kurdistan nationalism parties that choose the kurdish ministers, and the sunni parties choose the sunni minister pics of the bargaining takes place within the cabinet. quite often, issues are not resolved, but on the whole i think it's not a bad system. and i'm more optimistic that there will -- that the real danger of violence in iraq, which is violence among these organized statements, if you will, the kurdistan, she is 10, some extent, i think there's a very good step chance that will not happen. let me turn to afghanistan, which is obviously at the center of my thinking for the last
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year. one of the problems of afghanistan is that it has a government structure that is completely unsuited to a country. there are a lot of similarities between iraq and afghanistan. iraq you have the three groups, and afghanistan there are four, the posh tunes, 45%. todd gice at 25%. 10%, uzbeks at five. both countries have turkmens. and you have the more violent south south, relatively more stable north. whereas in iraq you have both a high degree of local self-government and a system
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that encourages power-sharing at the center. in afghanistan, you have a napoleonic constitutional structure. highly centralized, in the sense that the central government appoints the governors. all the ministers, the education department at the local level is controlled from kabul. there's not a local authority. the provincial councils are effectively just advisory bodies. and there's also a winner take all system at the center. him so you have an election for president, somebody wins, and that person then exercises they saved all there. there's really quite a weak parliament if the president controls the supreme court. president controls, and this turned out to be critically important, the independent election commission.
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and the other structures of government. now, at least that's how it works in theory. in reality, of course, since it's a very diverse country, both ethnically and graphically, what is will he means is the president doesn't control parts of the, large parts of the country. on the ground significantly self-governing. that's true of some regions. and we get to the pushkin region come when the points to make it is we talk about the taliban. is almost exclusively a pushkin movement. so it operates only among the 45 percent of the country. that are pushkin's. and thus, the north is, in the central highlands, certainly central highlands and to a lesser extent the north are relatively stable.
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one of the things, and this was proposed by doctor abdullah abdullah who was karzai's principal challenger, interestingly, a man who was one of the few true afghans and the sense that his father was a pushkin and his mother was a touchy. but in spite of that, he was asked about a by everybody as a touchy. and he didn't there was no shared identification among the pushkin's within. but what he propose and what i think makes sense, as to be entrenched power-sharing by taking significant powers away from the president. having a prime minister and cabinet chosen by the parliament
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with the same kind of our bargains that takes place in iraq. what afghanistan needs as iraqis don't constitution also with elected local government. now, i want to emphasize in the case of both iraq and the united states, iraq and afghanistan, it's really not for the united states to impose any solution and so yes, given the significant investment come particular that we have in afghanistan, where transitioning out of iraq. ours was an unwelcome invasion of iraq, except by the kurds. and the dynamic is very different that the way we are viewed as different. so our ability to shape events, political events in iraq is much less, and i would very much verge a lower profile there. but in the case of afghanistan, we are ramping up.
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is a much welcomed and center for the karzai government to its survival. and it's not original to say we have 100,000 troops there, additional 30000 for nato, we are spending all this money, that we expect something. and we certainly -- what is it that we ought to expect? well, we ought to expect a credible partner. and the problem is that credible partner does not exist. the karzai administration has, for the last eight years been characterized by ineffectiveness and corruption. now is in office by virtue of massive fraud. and it is seen as illegitimate, and rightly seen as illegitimate by a a large segment of the afghan population. karzai didn't win those elections. and it is in, incidentally, that
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the electoral complaints commission took karzai slightly below 50%, and abdullah gave up because he recognized it was hopeless. the electoral complaints commission get a set this occult -- did a statistical sample because all they needed to put them below 50%. but based on what i know from the staff, is that karzai's vote was probably around 41%, not 49%. and abdullah's was not that much far behind, maybe 35%. so this was a much closer contest. i think abdullah was right not to go to the cigarette because the independent election commission was moving to increase the number of polling centers when the root of the problem was goes bowling centers, that is, ghost pulitzers that never existed producing 1 million phony ballots.
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and because it retired -- in every case, the fraud was either perpetrated by the election commission staff or they collaborated with those who did the fraud, or they knew of the front and didn't report it. and every one of those people who were responsible for the staff were being rehired. in fact, well, aside, exactly one person has lost her job over fraud in the afghanistan elections. and that was one of the people who committed the fraud. [laughter] >> in any event, the results of this process is that we don't have a credible partner. and that's the missing link in president obama's strategy. and it's what makes it so difficult to implement. the idea of protecting the groups, protecting the population, okay, you can do that. you conclude the taliban out of an area. that's hard.
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but then you need something to happen, otherwise you will be there forever. specifically, what you need is for there to be an afghan army to come in and help you secure it, and eventually to take over. you need an afghan police to provide order. and then you need an afghan government, or some kind of government, that can provide public services, on his administration, and can win the trust of the people. the karzai government cannot do that. won't do it. and the way in which most afghans expense government, well, there's a lot of talk in washington about corruption, and that is there of course. but that isn't the main point. the main weight the expense as a abuse of power. people operating within ned. and it is a just government officials. it's really the local power brokers. and again, one of the standard,
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we imagine if your out of office you're out of power. so we think there is a corrupt governor or an abusive governor, we want to get him out of office. but it doesn't change things because the guy is still actually runs things. and the dilemma, the difficulty we face here is that once you have -- well, excuse me. the dilemma is once you have gotten -- even if you remove these guys, they are still in power, and once the population has lost confidence in the government, even if you could, miraculously get on his administration, it doesn't mean that you're going to regain the confidence of the people. that's the problem. because in order for somebody to sign up on the government side, they basically put their lives at risk.
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the taliban is basically leaves the elders a loan, unless they are aligned with the government. you need a large critical mass simultaneously go over to the government side. and that's very hard. so i don't see that this piece is going to be readily fixed. i do think meaningful, elected local sub government will help, but it's by no means a panacea. let me just say a word about the place, and then just a word to respond to what ivan said about pakistan. on the issue of the police, there's a real dilemma here, which is that we have an eight week training course for police, which is relatively short, but if you want to get large numbers, you can train for large
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period of time. the trouble is you have people who come in, who the first two weeks are spent on basic things like basic hygiene. what is required when a whole bunch of men live together? and then most of them are illiterate. and so if you really wanted to get a high quality place you have to have a multi-year training course that includes such things as teaching them how to read and write. but if he did that, at the end of the process, you have a relatively educated person who wouldn't want to be a policeman. [laughter] >> and these are some of the dilemmas we face. and some of these dilemmas, i won't go into it, come from imposing our idea of what the afghan army should be, what our idea of the afghan police should be. ambassador a problem which has raised this, and i won't go further, but he does observe that afghans, they are not unknown for their fighting prowess and how is it that we
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need to spend so much time training in how to fight. let me turn to the question of pakistan. the destroyed a thing about the u.s. relationship with pakistan is that the pakistanis remember everything and the americans remember nothing. and that narrative is of the u.s. as an unofficial allied that we lost interest. will, that isn't how it happened. first, the u.s., having -- well, having embraced pakistan in the 1981, after the soviet invasion, pakistan then made a commitment to the united states. the gender came and said pakistan does not have the intention of developing a nuclear explosive device. congress put this into law, and i had a lot to do with that,
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actually. that was simply putting his promise, his commitment, which nobody made him offer, into law. they knew that if they crossed the line on the nuclear program, that weapons and aid would be cut off. and they did and it was cut off. and we now are in deep apology mode for their breaking their commitment. and that reflects, i think, the larger problem of the relationship. which is that we have always viewed it as, pakistan is doing something for us, and we have, therefore, and therefore, you know, we are not sufficiently grateful. and that more or less is the pakistani narrative. but the soviet invasion of afghanistan was a lot bigger threat. and we might have crunched by saying to the general, if you want our help, here is our
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conditions, and we expect you to keep them. instead, we approach them from a position of weakness, and we said, if you'll sign up with us in fighting the soviets in afghanistan, you know, we will provide all these goodies, and they said yes, and i want to control. of course the most significant thing he wanted to control was to decide who among the afghans got the u.s. assistance. and he gave them to the very people that hate us the most. that are our enemies. and incidentally, no soviet ever attacked us from afghanistan. but of course, the very people that we funded, and we funded because pakistani and he insisted with the people who ultimately were responsible or contribute significantly to the attacks and the nazi. and the blank check approach was applied towards musharraf in the bush administration.
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there is, however, no easy solution to the problem in pakistan because pakistan is a divided country. it is certainly divided ethnically. with significant independence movement in those who could stand and the fact that the questions on both sides of the border. but it's also divided horizontally in the sense that there's a civilian but there's also the army, and informing for the other half. most of the other half. there is the isi which operates within the army. and then there is the supposedly rogue elements of the isi. so if we were to lay down some of these conditions, threatened to cut off aid to pakistan, who would we be hurting? and would we be serving our interest? i would argue that, in fact, our
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interest lies in strengthening pakistan's civilian government. i know there are many criticisms of the president, and he is less than a perfect human being. but the fact it it is awfully good if pakistan had once a blatant government that actually serve its term and then left office, rather than being overthrown. and the civilian government has a different approach to india than the military. the pakistani military, you spoke of it as india is the enemy. well, it's an interesting, if you talk in pakistan to the militant, if you talk to almost any subject, you know, flower arrangements, and within a few minutes the subject of india will come up. you could spend all day in india talking about security issues and the subject of pakistan does not come up. india has moved on.
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pakistan's military has not. and of course, there will being depends on the indian threat. that's a raison d'ĂȘtre. and it is why they do incredibly reckless things like support terrorist who are responsible for a number of attacks in india, including the monday attacks, which are the one thing that could lead to the pakistan-india war. and why they believe it's useful to be fighting india and afghanistan, both against the pushpins, and the taliban against the karzai government. so as to ending as it would be to think of pakistan as a unitary actor, subject to pressure, just doesn't work that way. so i think we have to operate with the reality of pakistan, and that reality is that we will
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be much better off if democracy really takes root in the country, if it becomes institutionalized, if it can the civilian government can gain measure and control over the military. and that's not impossible. some of the shift that has taken place this year in terms of the military fighting the pakistani taliban, which they were reluctant to do, is under pressure and direction from the civilians. pakistan was much less engaged in afghanistan during this election period than it had been in 2004. and that was the civilian government policy decision that they didn't want to be involved. again, it's far from perfect. but it's not impossible. and i think over time, what we want to see is the strength of civilian government in pakistan, and for it than to pursue some of the ideas that president zardari has that are shared by other pakistani politicians of
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cooperation, a regional market, even pakistan providing infrastructure for india. let me stop there, and -- [applause] >> thanks, peter. for an interesting presentation. and now we'll get to our third speaker, chuck, who is a senior fellow here at the institute. >> good afternoon. ivan hasn't given me a time limit, but since i know i can between you and to important things, first question, and the second, lunch that i would do it best to keep my remarks relatively brief. peter, to address the first part of your remarks, i am a californcalifornia by birthright, northern california specifically. you talk about how people identify. i also want to congratulate ivan for being pretty first getting this particular event or can i talk about this maybe six weeks
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or so ago. and who would know that it would happen the week after president obama decided to make a speech about ramping up troops in afghanistan. the title of today's event is, can we withdraw from iraq and afghanistan? i'm going to focus my remarks mosey about afghanistan, but i would say 80 to 90 percent of what i have to say you could probably just transfer over wholesale to iraq. i thought it was interesting that ivan chose the term can we withdraw. the simple answer is yes, absolutely. no problem. all the president has to do is make the decision. i mean, you know, whenever we talk about military withdrawal comes up, everybody throws up all the reasons you can't do it, how competent at it is, and you know, all the politics involved. the bottom line is, the commander in chief can make a decision. all he or she has to do is make
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it. and then, he tells the secretary of defense who works with the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and they make it happen. it's that simple. so the answer to, can we withdraw, is yes. always has been yes. you just have to have the political will to make the decision to withdraw. so than the next question that comes up then is, okay, how do you do that? right? just sort of a logistical nightmare, and it is. particularly in iraq at the moment. it is a bit of a logistical nightmare. but in afghanistan, yeah, you can withdraw. and let me suggest, the president has said that he would like to begin withdrawal of troops in afghanistan in roughly 18 months. that's an average rotation that's not unreasonable at all. we can be out in less than 18 months out of afghanistan to
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conduct, we can probably be out and close to a year, if you made that decision now to bring, to draw down to the gate. two brigades is about 7002, depending on whether it is combat or combat support. so the how is also fairly doable, and you tell the folks on the joint staff figure out the logistics, work with the cocom, to figure it all out and you find a way to bring the troops out. of course, part of the problem, particularly in iraq is the equivalent, how do you get the equipment out because we got a lot of heavy equipment in there now. we have less so in afghanistan so it is probably a little bit easier. . .
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>> as i said at least strategically the logic applies pretty equally too both. the answer to should we withdraw, it is yes. let me walk through the argument as to why that answer is yes. the proposed ramp up of troops which is less than general mcchrystal wanted. he wanted 40,000 but the
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president decided 30,000 and general mcchrystal saluted and said yes i can still been with 30,000 for 40,000. it is not enough. that is both the rule of thumb and what general petraeus, general mcchrystal superior officer wrote in a counter insurgency manual that united states military now uses and what history has demonstrated, you need about 20 soldiers for every 1,000 civilians to be able to effectively run a counter insurgency operation. in afghanistan you're looking at a force of more than the 600,000 troops required to run an effective counter insurgency we don't have 600,000 ground forces in the united states army. you could combine active-duty army and marines
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and get to the 600,000 but there is no way to get to that number if we had to. roughly 8,100,000 u.s. troops after the surge give or take plus the nato troops, enough to do what? enough to occupy kabul and keep the mayor and maybe enough to occupy two or three more provinces in afghanistan but not enough to occupy the country or run an effective counter insurgency. what happens when you have a small force you apply what the mall and sent to the area in one area then when you say we have pacification then you move on to the next area which generally happens the place you pacified before violence erupts because nobody is there minding the store. the solution the president has proposed is the same
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solution that president bush proposed in iraq in free-trade the afghans to take control of their own security during the bush administration if they stand up we will stand down that is exactly what president obama is proposing in afghanistan. and not have enough troops to run an effective counter insurgency and may are may not have enough to run a counter terrorism strategy but as to a reason why we should withdraw rather than stay, number two, no political leader in the united states has ever admitted to the american public what is required to run eight effective counterinsurgency. we make it sound like if we put did enough troops and also bringing in civilians, a state department and other services that we will do
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this in a kind alert and more gentle way. schools, services, running water, all the amenities that people like, they will love us and won't turn against us as a result. so between the military and the civilians, we will wind. that is not really how it is done or what history tells us. history tells us would you run effective counterinsurgency you kill a lot of people and if you don't you incarcerate them and engage in broad brush relatively harsh tactics to do that because the point* of counter in search counterinsurgency is to get order and you do it any way you can. doesn't matter if there is collateral damage or if you lock up the right people but it matters you are imposing order and security.
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that is the whole plan a point*. you don't kill with kindness you do that with military force. if you look at the british who are often acknowledged as the experts in counterinsurgency usually because they had colonies they had to run counterinsurgency operations to have security in the colonial empire. that is what the brits did. it is not pretty. it is ugly and runs counter to how we believe or what we believe we are as a country which is why the president's any president, does not admit to the american public what is required to run an effective counter insurgency so they dress up in a lot of ways better politically more palatable. do we have enough troops? three willing to engage in the tactics necessary to win? i think the answer is no.
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number three, how long do we have to stay? we have already been in there 80 years. oscillating between the relatively small footprint but three but even more. the history of counter insurgency is five or seven years. with enough troops engaged in the kind of operations that you really need to engage. that is not exactly not what obama has proposed. he even said much to his credit, he does not want this to be an open ended nation-building mission and i applaud him for that. but if you run effective counterinsurgency better plan to be there for a minimum of five years. the brits were in malaysia 20 years running their counterinsurgency operations there.
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be willing to be there for a long time it is already in unpopular war where the odds they'll be willing to put up with 20 more years of this? from a tactical perspective, i don't think we can win. those are three strong tactical reasons to withdraw but most importantly importantly, strategically it is not in our interest to stay. both peter and ivan have talked about this but occupation fuels resentment which creates terrorists. in the territory that you octopi and as you saw with 9/11 it creates terrorist to may decide they want to strike you at home away from the territory they you are occupying. says the whole point* of having gone into afghanistan
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in the first place which i would argue we had to do at the time, because the whole point* is to reduce the terrorist threat to the united states, not increase the threat two at this point* in time, eight years later, having not achieved the objectives that we wanted to achieve when we first went into afghanistan is high time for the u.s. to the four and be run by the afghans a matter how imperfect that might be. big government, no matter which government did is, karzai or taliban, in a government in afghanistan, that openly provide aid and shelter two al qaeda. if they decide to do that, we come back and do this all over again. by the way that is cheaper if you're worried about the cost. it is cheaper to leave and
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if things come back -- get bad comeback can do little over the and it is to stay and make something work that we cannot make work. here are the issues. #1. the taliban is not monolithic. here we tend to equate taliban with al qaeda. they are not the same there are elements that would support al qaeda in wanting to attack the united states and other elements but they interested in having a say in the government in afghanistan. we have to stop treating them as monolithic way as a single threat two as if they are a threat to the united states of america proper. they are not. we have to live with less than perfect in terms of what happens in afghanistan and i also think we have to be willing to concede at this point* that what is left of al qaeda weather
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coming across the border in afghanistan i saw a news report that supposedly even bin laden found his way across the border into afghanistan periodically. it is not the same al qaeda that attacked us on 9/11. been lauded in particular does not have operational control over a group that has global reach that can attack the united states. our larger problem is not osama bin laden the larger problem is the ideal at -- ideologically of radical islam that has seeped into them world because we hope to propagate that by our actions in places like iraq and afghanistan. would ever point* there is to get osama bin laden and i would love to say that the strategically the cost to
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try to get bin laden and contain al qaeda, the cost far outweigh any residual benefit at this point* given that it bin laden and the people surround him no longer sayre rent-- represent a real threat united states the real threat to is everywhere in the muslim world being fueled by ideology and anti-american sentiment. the notion of the nine outside is safe haven in afghanistan is a pie in the sky notion. there will be some safe havens because there will always be people who have sympathies to decide they want to support groups like al qaeda. or their local threats or global threats? as long as their local that is what the afghan government can deal with and we have to live with. less than perfect.
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it is the global threat that we have to worry about. we have to worry about that less now than we did eight years ago and worry more about the radicalizing muslims as witnessed by the bombings in madrid and a buoyant -- london in particular. our very presence in to muslim countries in the moment, iraq and afghanistan goes a long way to fuel that radicalism that the u.s. occupation makes us a target with the anti-western, anti-u.s. elements from ideology but most of that is because we are their in their territory not necessarily they want to come after the united states it does not solve all of the problems.
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it is not a panacea. it does not mean that either country will be a better place from the perspective of the iraqis or afghans. although peter has eluded he thinks iraq would be and that would be great. but our concern is not if they are better places but if either one represents a threat to the united states. of the best way to move in the right direction to rancher neither country is a threat to this for the u.s. to withdraw up to give muslims and those countries less reason to want to target the united states and to have sympathy with the ideology of radical islam. we would be a much safer country as a result let me reiterate. can't leave withdraw? yes.
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how? we can do it is still logistically complicated but we can do it. but should we? absolutely. that is the kind of decision that any president should be making for decisions that r&r strategic interest. thank you. [applause] >> >> you have heard the more optimistic and more pessimistic view that will happen and also some differences on what we should do and afghanistan and also the differences on pakistan. that should provide some grist for some good
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questions. who would like to start? right here. >> very interesting presentations of highlight the complexity of the whole situation and underline the fact that the wars, from the beginning were serious mistakes that have gotten us into a deep quagmire which needs to be a precise because one of my questions and i have another comment is in order to get support out of the war, it is not just a criticism of the obama but to build support against the political spectrum in the country to recognize the fact superseding and necessity to get out because he is criticized on the bright to not wanted to stay and forever. it is important to make that support and to get out. with the case in afghanistan
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it is important with the exit because i have a number of afghan friends and my daughter worked there a couple of years to be willing to make the separation between the nationalist segment and the dictatorial segment which led before which imposed incredibly severe rules of behavior and things throughout the country, blew up the buddhist statues and things like that which is not the one that we want to have us an ally. my third question to peter, given the conflict between the kurds and other iraqis, how does that get settled in order to separate kurdistan from iraq? >> let me begin by making clear i am not in favor of making withdrawal from
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afghanistan. i have reservations about additional troops because i don't think they can accomplish the counter insurgency mission because there is no credible partner. but the consequences of withdrawal at this point* in time would be disastrous for many people in afghanistan and we have accomplished a lot and are not viewed as an alien body in the way we are in arab iraq. i am just making clear. in some ways i think there were three bad choices. more troops but that was ineffective because there was no partner which leads to rapid deterioration in the current situation is fragile deterioration but in the real world, they are not happy solutions. with does not follow if we withdraw the taliban
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taliban, remember 55% of the country these are groups that the taliban has no support so it is conceivable of we were to completely disengaged, yes than the taliban would have some possibility of taking advantage of the chaos when the other groups are to fight each other as they did in the early 90's but if we remain engaged even with a small number of troops or even without, the taliban will not come back and take power. also there may be four realists to include in parts of the country room for a very conservative islamic party that would embody the taliban but when you speak to your daughter, adobe under any illusions as to what that would mean for women in the country.
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let's not pretend it will be something different than what it will be. of the issue of oil in iraq, there is something in the iraqi constitution that basically addresses this. which provides for revenue sharing from the existing oilfields and allows the regions that is only one kurdistan to develop their own resources. this has been incredibly important to the kurds. because they will say they wish iraq never had any oil because it was used to finance the oppression of the kurds and purchase the chemical weapons that killed them and the physical destruction. for them, even if the revenues are good and they say they are willing to do
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that although not constitutionally required, it is that they have their own independent source of revenue that is the critical element. in terms of how networks on territory, it is kirkuk of the largest oilfields which they have agreed have to be managed by the central government but they believe should be part of kurdistan and the constitution there should be a referendum. said it was fully independent suppose kirkuk could come in and i am not sure it gives kurdistan a share of the outside resources because so much exist and certainly there are areas in the suni areas it is an area that was never explored. >>
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>> that was a long question i will talk to you after. >> i am with the northern community college. with regard to afghanistan, and the existence of the heroin train should be a threat natalee to our well-being but the whole world. what we make that a major focus? is also a major funding for the taliban itself. >> i will take a crack at that. we have done everything cents 9/11 to focus, we have made efforts but we heavily focused on iraq with nation-building and drug interdiction and drug eradication. i think your body in afghanistan makes money off of the drugs not just the taliban but the best thing to do would cut demand by a radical solution to legalize drugs in the u.s. but nobody will do that.
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that will take the fire out of some of the insurgency right there. but nobody will do that. but if you go and eradicate the poppy fields the population will not support you and go to the taliban that is why the u.s. military was very reluctant to do these types of things earlier in afghanistan but now obama change the policy and has gone away trying to get the traffickers instead of the growers which is an improvement but still the sideline we still need to get back to what we should be focused on, which is, it is tragic afghanistan's major export is opium, which has been turned into heroin, but to the u.s. has to pay attention, or we
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haven't paid attention sufficiently to do with your eyes on the threat. anything that helps us to get al qaeda, i think chalk is right just because you get them does not mean the show is over but you have to concentrate on that and anything that takes your eyes off of that including fighting the taliban should be put aside. we can talk about what is good for the people of afghanistan or iraq but we have to keep our eyes on their own security and that is what we failed to do since 9/11. >> i certainly applaud the central thrust of what we need to achieve a public recognition that enemy is not taliban but al qaeda and refrain the attitudes accordingly.
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it is an uphill job to change american opinion but one specific problem of a bike to ask about, ic reports and army the police in developing the army of afghanistan, we're having a lot of success recruiting those who are a strong plurality of the police but not much success in recruiting passions that are defecting in considerable numbers and your outnumbered. it does seem we'll make it possible for opposing factions to kill each other at longer-range. what do we do about that? >> this of course, goes back to the history of how the current government came into power, which is realign their cells or backed the
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northern alliance which was primarily a tajik movement. i am not sure most of the recruits third tajik but the leadership of the army is. the dilemma it is very simple. and particularly true with the police. if you recruit and i will talk about this in a second but if you recruit pashtun police to serve inside kandahar and the outside the city they have eight weeks training and they may and a checkpoint their chance of living through the year is probably 50% and overall the mortality rate of police is 10% per year. that is not a very inviting
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occupation. of course, if you are tadzhik in safe areas that is mine. it is a job. but if you are pashtun that is not very inviting i don't know how the same factors are in the army but it is my understanding there are passions in the army but the higher ranks are tadzhik. >> i think any time you have sectarian divisions in a country and you are treating a force that is more to be inclined over one sectarian group over another, the same could be said for our iraq have retrained everybody for civil war there? i am more pessimistic because i look over iraqi history and a sea so many
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kurdish and shia rates rebeling against the city government and also the history of these types of things and other sectarian problems with violence it seems to come back all the time so i think anytime you trained forces of one side or the other even if nominally iraqi army or whatever you risk that happening after you leave and of course, the u.s. leaves the situation sooner or later unless you talk about three or germany. we have time for one more question. right here. >> an open question may be chock wants to address it why should anybody put any credibility in the pledge of the above the administration
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to withdraw by mid 2011 given the recent testimony of secretary gates that so withdrawal is not dependent on the military commanders on the ground which is a dodge? >> any time a president says we will withdraw this is true in iraq under the bush a administration it is to both in iraq and afghanistan under obama, it is conditional the president did not say unconditionally we will start withdrawing troops in 18 months, they will look back to an assessment and what is on the ground and if they don't think things have gotten better my guess is they will find a reason to stay. i don't think anybody should be surprised by the testimony of secretary gates for secretary clinton's remarks you have to